Living the Dream

The passion I have for all things turf is strong, where it comes from… I don’t know, it’s just there. It’s strong enough to make me build all the components of a golf hole in my backyard; green, tee, and bunker. Also to have a website ( that shows all the detailed construction steps. I’ve been lucky enough over the last few years to be accepted as a volunteer at the AT&T National Pro/Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links & the Air Canada tournament, that use to be played in Vancouver.

A friend of mine understands my turf drive and anytime there is an opportunity for me to get involved, he is there to help. Jeff Steen: a golf course Superintendent for the Pebble Beach Company (PBC) is from Vancouver Island and one day we were talking about me coming back down for a visit (it has been four years since the AT&T).

So when the offer was put there for me to come down to The Links at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, California, I jumped at the chance. I thought what a great excuse to leave winter behind in Victoria and go hang out with my buddy (that’s the way the wife sees it!).

By the time the tires touched down at Monterey airport I was getting excited about seeing Spanish Bay. While the plane was sitting on the tarmac waiting to unload I was thinking about how long I have known Jeff, over nine years and in that time the accomplishments he has made have been amazing. Going back to school for his turf degree, being the assistant superintendent at Pebble Beach for two years and excelling at that position and most recently, the last four years as the superintendent of The Links at Spanish Bay, one of four under the PBC umbrella.
Now that’s living the turf dream.

Alright let’s get back to the project at hand. Jeff met me at the airport, but my luggage did not! We went for dinner to catch up on life and to talk about the golf course, by the end of the night my stomach was full and my luggage and I were reunited.

Thursday morning was early and I met Jeff’s staff: his first & second assistants, Gary and Kyle. Also Pablo, Rafael, Ryan and Manuel, plus fifteen more (I’m terrible with names). The plan was to change and reshape one green side bunker into two pot bunkers and a larger front bunker. Before construction started on this project, communication was going to be very important because of the two languages that were to be spoken, English & Spanish. My Spanish was non – existent other than, gringo, amigo, and Chiquita which was not going to be helpful. Jeff was good at speaking ‘Spanglish’ – some English and some Spanish. Pablo’s English was huge with keeping everyone on the same page and involved. The crew worked very hard under some tough conditions: heavy rain, sideways rain, and in your face rain. There was only so much machine work to do, the rest was hands on for the final look. The crew took great pride with building these new bunkers and it showed with the finished product. Two small pot bunkers were created a few meters apart with a larger bunker lower in the middle. For more detailed construction information, or anything else about the day to day operation, please contact Superintendent Jeff Steen. A mini excavator & T190 track Bobcat were provided to me for creating these three bunkers. Turf was removed from some inside areas and around the bunker, and then removing all bunker sand was next. This part of the project was interesting, because the old bunker sand was recycled for another project on the course.

A meandering walking path was created for the golfers to control foot traffic when going to this tee box. The material used for the path was a beige color crush that firmed up nicely once compacted. The old faded white bunker sand went down on either side of the crush path. There were a few native shrubs here & there, where we spread the recycled sand. A small spilt rail fence ran along the outside of the sand with two openings at either end for the golfers to walk through, which finished off this project. The look really fits in well with the other sand dunes at this links style course. Being an Audubon certified golf course, Jeff was very aware of any restraints while working in the dune areas.

Once all three bunker areas were created and Jeff was happy with the shaping, sodding was next. Rye sod went down along the left side of the green and a small area infront & back of the bunker. Fescue sod went down between all three bunkers to add character and esthetics. New sand was brought in and raked out to finish off the project. There was one day of sunshine and the rest was rain off & on, so there was some small washed out areas, but nothing major. It was now day six and tomorrow was time to head back home. I couldn’t believe the time had blown by so fast. It was a great project to be involved with, the bunkers look amazing.

Once the project was completed the crew signed a Spanish Bay flag and gave it to me as a thank-you. What a classy move. I enjoyed working along side this crew and seeing Jeff. I’m fortunate to be ‘living the dream’ and with opportunities like this, one can see why. “Hey Jeff… what’s next”.

Rob Crompton - Feb 2009